Oklahoma and Kansas wheat farmers are continuing what's become a bitter harvest of winter wheat. The region along the border of the two states received virtually no snow last winter and just over 1.5 inches of rain since October. The area around Kiowa, Kansas depends heavily on a winter wheat crop valued at 16-to-18 million dollars to sustain the local economy. This year, yield estimates are about half of normal. Further north, farmers also are in need of moisture, so it came as no surprise this week that the latest government crop production estimates were disappointing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its monthly crop production estimates Friday. And it appears that dry weather is beginning to take its toll on the grain belt.
The Agriculture Department pegged 2006 corn production at 10.5 billion bushels, which is unchanged from last month.
USDA predicts America's farmers will harvest 3 billion bushels of soybeans. That's also unchanged from last month's forecast.
The biggest change in this month's report was seen in wheat country, where arid conditions led the government to lower last month's estimates.
USDA predicts total wheat production at 1.8 billion bushels. That's 59 million bushels less than last month's guess.
The government also released its monthly world supply and demand estimates Friday, but the report contained few, if any, surprises and had little impact on the markets.